Sunday, November 20, 2011

"I've had a lot of joe jobs, but nothing I'd call a career. Let me put it this way: I have an extensive collection of name tags and hairnets."*

            There was this time a few years ago when I was (yet again) unemployed. I was still kind of cocky about my prospects because I’d recently quit a really stable and decent-paying job (yeah, I don’t know why I did that) and I figured I’d be hired again in no time.
            I spent a large portion of my days trolling through Craigslist for employment, looking to find something that would pay me boatloads of money for very little time. I also wanted the job to be easy and fun. This way, I reasoned, I could make lots of money and spend all my free time pursuing the creative things I really wanted to do.
            My ideal position was personal shopper. I wanted a rich but kind woman to pay me an obscene hourly wage to go buy her fabulous clothes at the shops on Rodeo or that swanky part of Melrose. Come to think of it, I would still like that job.
            So anyhow, one day I stumbled upon the following ad:
            “Successful producer seeks paid daytime companion for shopping and activities. If you’re interested call Ty.”
            It sounded pretty ideal, so I called Ty.
            We had a brief chat in which he asked me about myself, how long I’d lived in Los Angeles, what I wanted to do with my life, and what kinds of activities I enjoyed. I told the usual lies about wanting to make a difference in the world and then it was his turn.
            He explained the position: he basically wanted someone to hang out with him during the day. He’d worked as a producer for years and he had lots of money and interests, but hadn’t cultivated many friendships. He wanted someone to hang out, go shopping, maybe see a movie and eat “fancy” food. He even asked me if I liked to eat “fancy” food. That seemed a little weird, but of course I like to eat “fancy” food. I like to eat any food, as I’ve mentioned before. (Sorry I keep putting quotes around “fancy.” It seems necessary somehow.)
            He asked if I was interested in the job and when I said yes he instructed me to meet him at a café in Korea Town the next day.
            That seemed safe enough, in case he was a psycho or something. 
( Here are some pictures of famous psychos throughout history. The three M's.) 
            He told me he’d be wearing a button down, short-sleeved yellow shirt.
            I’d like to pause at this juncture and say that I’m not one of those really gullible, naïve people who might be at risk for cult membership or anything like that. I sort of figured that Ty was off a little bit (hence, the shirt he planned to wear) and this whole thing was going to be weird, but I also thought that maybe he was just a social misfit who really wanted to pay someone to teach him how to be cool. And I am the perfect person to teach others how to be cool. Truly.
            So the next day I went to Korea Town and got a rock star parking spot right in front of the café—no small victory in Korea Town. I took the excellent parking spot to be a sign.
            I went in and looked around. After ordering a coffee, I wandered around the place looking for someone that might be Ty.
            I saw the guy sitting at a table in a button-down yellow shirt. He was talking to a twenty-something Asian girl. She looked confused and slightly uncomfortable. Within seconds, he shook her hand and stood as she left. She nearly stumbled over the furniture rushing to get out the door.
            I marched forward.
            “Are you Lacey?”
            We shook hands for slightly too long and he invited me to sit down.
            “So, are you interviewing a lot of people today?”
            “A few. Wow, you are really pretty.”
            Everything felt wrong right away.
            “Um, thank you?”
            “So, what kind of restaurants do you like to go to, Lacey?”
            Ty looked about 24. He had incredible acne, the really awful kind that you can't beat without antibiotics and battery acid. He also had braces and the smile of a serial killer.            
            “Uh…you know. Any kind, really. I love to eat.”
            “That’s really great. And are your days pretty free?”
            At this point he leaned across the table and put his hand on mine. I patted his hand and pulled mine away slowly. I didn’t want to be rude.
            “Pretty free. So, what kind of a producer are you, Ty?” I asked.
            “I produce the encoding on CDs.”
            “You know, I make the encoding so you know which company produced the CD. I do DVDs too,” he tried to explain.
            “Oh, like the credits? Like if Timbaland produced it, you’d make sure that was encoded?”
            “No, like the company that made the actual, physical CD, like Memorex. Or Sony. And I put the FBI warning in after the menu on DVDs.”
            “Oh. Interesting.”
            He put his hand back on top of mine (why hadn’t I put my hand under the table?).
           "You know," he said, "your nails would look really nice with a French manicure." I tried to yank my hand away. "Look at my fingernails. I get a manicure every week." He held out his hand. "And I get a pedicure every week--look!" And he raised his foot up so I could check out his toenails, which were clearly visible because he was wearing SANDALS.

             "I think women appreciate good hygiene," he said.

             "Yeah, well I shower every day," I joked.

              "Good, good" he said, nodding his head, serious. "So do you like to go to the theatre?"

              "Yeah, I love theatre! I majored in theatre."

              "Great. I really love the Grove."

             "Oh. You mean, like, the movie theatre?" (I've never before--or since--heard a movie theatre referred to as "the theatre.")

            "Yeah. I like romantic movies," he smiled. My stomach heaved.
            “You’re really sweet, Lacey.”
            “No I’m not! You don’t know me!” I blurted it out. I was really uncomfortable.
            “Well, I think you are sweet. What I’m looking for is someone sweet and affectionate to do all the activities with me that I’ve never had time to do. I make so much money but I haven’t had time to spend any of it. I want to spend it in style, spend it on someone special.”
            “Wait. Is this, like, um, a romantic, um thing? Are you…looking for a girlfriend? That you, like…pay?”
            “Yes, in a way,” he smiled. He had a creepy smile. 
            "So this isn't about learning to be cool?"
            “Nothing. Look, that’s really not going to work for me. I have a boyfriend, for one thing.” (This was actually true at the time. I really did have a boyfriend.)
            “That’s okay. You can do whatever you want during the evenings. But during the day, you’d be my girlfriend. And it wouldn’t be anything serious. We’d just hold hands and kiss sometimes. We could see movies and go out to eat at nice restaurants. I would buy you clothes and presents. And I could teach you to surf, because I bought a surfboard and I plan to learn how to use it pretty soon.”
            “Yeah, I don’t know about all that. Although the surfing part sounds kind of cool. I just don’t think my boyfriend would really be okay with us kissing and holding hands all day. For money.”

            I took a very big sip of my coffee and turned my head away. I just couldn't keep looking at him. Unfortunately, now I was staring at a painting of naked people who appeared to be running a race.

            "I just love the human form," Ty commented.

            "I bet you do."
            “Tell you what—don’t say no right now. Think about it and I’ll call you tomorrow and you can give me your answer.”
            “Um, okay. But I really don’t—“
            He cut me off.
            “Just think about it. I think you’re a really sweet person and I would really love to get to know you better.”
            I’m not sure why he kept calling me sweet. Maybe because I hadn’t run away yet?
            He stood up, so I did, too. Then he hugged me. (Why didn't he hug the Asian girl? Because he liked me better? Ew...) I wriggled out of his iron grip on my lower back and raced out the door.
            I thought about how I’d have to take a rape shower when I got home. (You know—the kind where you sit on the floor of the shower in the dark and wrap your arms around your knees and rock back and forth feeling like you’ll never be clean again?)
            When I told him about it, my boyfriend was a cross between worried and confused.
            “He wants to pay you to be his girlfriend?”
            “Only during the day,” I pointed out.
            “And you told him you have a boyfriend?” he asked.
            “Yeah, Ty doesn’t care. He’s not going to let that stand in the way of our relationship.”
            “You’re not going to do it, are you?”
            “I don’t know. He said he’d pay me $20 an hour. And he'd buy me clothes and presents.”
            That didn't make the boyfriend feel better.
           Needless to say, I didn't take the job. And I had to screen a few unknown numbers for the next several weeks, worried that it might be Ty calling to offer me one last chance at it. But that boyfriend and I are no longer together, so sometimes I wonder what might have happened if I'd gotten a paid girlfriend gig. Seems much more practical and financially rewarding.
           But I didn't. And some other girl is out there getting paid to date my boyfriend.
*Quote courtesy of Waynes' World.



  1. Please save yourself for that one man with GOOD skin, whose presence we can all tolerate---and, one who can tolerate all of US---- at upcoming family events. xoxoxo your MUM

  2. SANDALS!! Hahaha you did need to say you REALLY had a boyfriend.
    Would he take your friend and her kids shopping?